Today’s Bible reading
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed; do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” — 1 Peter 3:14
More thoughts for meditation
The apostle Peter experienced a few extreme moments of courage as well as fear while he was close with Jesus here on earth. One moment of courage occurred when Jesus told his disciples of how he, Jesus, would be put to death – Peter was adamant that he, Peter, should die instead of Jesus. When Jesus was being arrested, Peter attempted to protect Jesus and advanced himself with a sword towards one of the soldiers, cutting off the soldier’s ear (though that’s probably not what Peter was aiming to cut off!). Such acts of courage may be commendable on Jesus’ behalf; however, Peter may be best known for his cowardly conduct of denying Jesus three times while Jesus was being tried and sentenced to be crucified. Jesus had given Peter forewarning merely hours before his infamous betrayal. Yet, even though Jesus told Peter that he would be tempted and falter in fear, Peter refused to believe any such fear could overcome him. It did. Lore has it after the fact that there were some who would come up behind Peter and crow like a rooster as a cruel joke – mimicking the sound Jesus said Peter would hear after his denial occurred. Regardless of any surrounding taunts, Peter seemed to have internalized his epic experience in a way that perpetuated redemption and perseverance – rather than fear and despair.
In his first letter to groups of early Christians, Peter emphasizes how suffering because of being connected to Christ never goes un-noticed and unrewarded. He beseeches his readers to hold fast to their faith. Peter testifies of his witness to Jesus’ resurrection; and, because of such reality, no one need fear anything – even death. If Peter had conceptualized the outcome of Jesus’ crucifixion to be resurrection, would he have acted differently when confronted with fear? It seems so. Peter repeats throughout his letter of the imperativeness to ‘do the right thing’. He downplays the consequences suffering may inflict by the hands of men and up-plays the reward Jesus wants to bestow upon those who stand up for justice and are not afraid to proclaim the message of Christ. Peter was so transformed from fear to faith after witnessing Jesus’ resurrection that, when the Holy Spirit descended to earth after Jesus’ ascension back to heaven, Peter was inspired to headline an evangelistic extravaganza. At Pentecost, he preached to thousands; and thousands believed his message and came to follow Christ. Was this the same guy who shrank in fear and didn’t even want to acknowledge any affiliation with Christ before Christ’s death? Yep! That is how the power of resurrection works. Peter experienced it first hand and was compelled to share his transformation with as many as he could. He wanted to prove that despite the Way of Christ calling us to live contrary to the mainstream culture, it is worth it. We don’t have to worry about what may happen to us for choosing Jesus, for choosing to do the right thing when others are trying to convince us it is wrong or it is simply inconvenient and un-necessary. God pays attention to our efforts and does not abandon us along the way nor in the end. And even when we succumb to peer pressures of the world telling us it’s not worth it, Jesus will reassure us of His love and inspire us to keep sharing His redemption message with others. That is what Peter experienced and lived out
Suggestions for action
You may not be experiencing the direct threats of risking your life if you claim to know Jesus. Maybe you are. All the same, we have brothers and sisters in parts of the world that are living for Christ and being persecuted for it. Pray for them to hold fast to the power of resurrection through Christ and to not fear the powers of men. Maybe you are experiencing fear to do the right thing because you may lose connections with family and friends, or you will lose money or your job (or maybe your life) – hold fast to the power of Jesus’ resurrection and the promise that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you…or simply let Jesus hold you, as he held Peter’s hand when Peter began to sink on the water while walking with Jesus. Jesus did not let Peter sink; and, likewise, Jesus did not let Peter remain in regret for denying Him. After Jesus resurrection, Jesus reassured Peter of His love. The same holds true for us today! Be reassured that, even though fear comes in all forms at any given moment, Peter’s transformation is proof that we can be transformed too.